Sitting Our Way to Death

Every morning I catch the train on my way to office for a 37 minutes ride. Usually the seats are taken up on a first come first serve basis and none is empty within a few stations. In the evening, most people board the train from the central station and again everyone is sitting on a seat within an instant. Same routine, every day.

It makes sense when people don’t want to run outside due to cold weather. What really surprises me is the need to sit down on a seat — before going to sit and after already having sat — for around 8 hours at office (for most jobs and healthy persons).

The catchphrase nowadays is Sitting is the new smoking. And I agree with it. I feel that we are almost sitting our way to death. Sitting in public transport, sitting at office, sitting at home in the evening, sitting for most modern entertainment outlets, and so on. Contracting various diseases is a fairly natural outcome of this routine.

After hearing from friends and family who developed back pain problems, I realized that my turn is almost there — unless obviously I do something about it. So I started implementing the following steps to minimize my sitting time.

  1. I stumbled upon B. J. Fogg’s 3 step model to habit change. As an example of this model, Fogg mentioned his habit of doing 2 pushups immediately after he peed, and gradually increased that number. So I started getting up from my seat around every 50 minutes, drinking a glass of water and doing as many pushups as I could. As a result, I feel stronger and healthier, not to mention the prevention of back problems and less screen stress on my eyes as a result. I must admit that my profession as an engineer helps here as we are used to casual dress instead of a business outfit.
  2. I try to never miss a chance to walk. I walk to the train station in the morning instead of driving so that I am forced to walk back in the evening. When I have to make a phone call, I put my earphones on and go for a short walk. Or even meetings with a person or two can be done during a walk.
  3. Once I saw the following written in an elevator of a building: Burn calories, not electricity. It resonated with me so much that I rarely use an elevator now. Again, climbing stairs gives me a feeling of agility and liveliness at work.
  4. Finally, going back to the train observation, I try to stand up during my travel both to and from work. And reading a book while standing is no different than while sitting.

Interestingly, none of the above requires dedicating extra time — which always seems to be running out — for running outside.

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  1. Pingback: 8 - Exercise | Wisdom Summary

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